Fair warning--we're talking about childbirth here. There's obviously some fluids and functions.
First of all, I would like to make the blanket statement that the whole childbirth thing--for ME and ONLY ME--really wasn't that bad. Contractions hurt. Pushing really effin' hurt, but didn't last long. But mostly, it wasn't the horrorshow I feared, probably because I don't remember 70% of it.
It started at 6:30 a.m. on a Friday morning. I woke up hurting and bleeding. I wasn't sure if the bleeding part was normal, but I wasn't really scared. I was more hopeful that it meant I was about to be finished being pregnant. I knew Iphigenia was full term and, probably, the worst that would happen is that I would be induced or have to have a c-section. My regular doctor's appointment was at 11:00 that morning, so I just hung out until then and didn't even ask Daniel to go with me. I mean, bleeding might just be part of it, right? Probably happens to all pregnant women? Everything else I asked the doctor about turned out to just be some normal pregnant thing, so it's probably just that again.
I'm a dumbass.
My doctor's regular nurse wasn't in that day and I mentioned the bleeding to her, told her how far along I was, and told her I'd been hurting. After sitting in the exam room for quite a while, Dr. H came in, mentioned that there had been blood in my urine sample and asked if I had noticed any spotting. I told her that yes, I'd been bleeding quite a bit and hurting and that I'd told the nurse that. She shot the nurse a narrow-eyed death look and said "Well, I wish I'd known that."
She felt my belly and asked to rate my pain as she felt a contraction happen. I blinked at her. "I don't feel anything," I said. "Well, except hungry." Dr. H looked a little chagrined and admitted she hadn't believed me when I said I had a high pain tolerance, but that was a pretty good contraction, so the ones I was saying actually hurt must have been big. At this point, I was told not to pass Go, not to collect $200, go directly to labor and delivery and get this bleeding/contracting thing checked out RIGHT THIS SECOND.
Now, I'ma take a second here for those of you who like all your loose ends tied up. We never find out what the bleeding all over the place was all about. It's going to go on in varying degrees of severity for the next 24 hours and it would always go like this:
Person on the Phone- "OMFG PANIC! BLEEDING! GET HERE RIGHT NOW!"
Person in L&D- "Feh. Wevs. Go home."
Then there was a baby and it kind of quit mattering on a more than academic level. Ahem. Back to our story already in progress.
So I spend two hours getting monitored by Nurse Ratchet, who tells me this will probably go on for several more weeks and I should probably go in to work after I leave L&D and "Don't do anything stupid like planning on not going in next week." By "this," I mean contractions 5 to 10 minutes apart. I was also given a Weight Watchers magazine to read while sitting around getting monitored, which I thought was kind of hilarious.
I go home. I refuse to time contractions because I am so goddam depressed by the fact that I'm going to feel like this for up to another month. I go to my friend's birthday roast and say that I'm in labor and it's less painful than looking at his stupid beard. Everyone thinks I'm kidding. Everyone except R and C who have been watching me make hash marks on the paper table cloth every time I have a contraction. They are sworn to secrecy because I don't want to think about it and sure as hell don't want a bunch of people asking about it. As we are leaving, someone (Daniel? C?) notices that there are an awful lot of hash marks on that table.
Some short division later, we notice that these things are coming five minutes apart. We go home and time and have a bath until I'm about three minutes apart, at which point we are told to come back in. I started crying on the way to the hospital because I was scared about having the baby and didn't feel ready. Not for the labor part, for the being a mom part. Or maybe I was crying because it was 2 a.m. and I hadn't slept in over 24 hours. Tomato, tomahto.
It is also at this point I stop remembering almost anything. Because when we went to the hospital this time, they gave me an Ambien and told me to go home and take a bath. My contractions were a minute and a half apart.
I remember standing in the shower watching large, black blood clots fall and calling for Daniel. I remember it because it scared me.
I remember the nurse telling me my water had broken and that she knew it because she could feel the baby's hair.
I remember telling her that the fluid I was losing looked meconium stained.
I remember having to curl up in a ball for an epidural. I don't remember at all how I decided to get one because I was really kind of hoping to be bad-ass enough not to have to. In retrospect, that was kind of a douchey thing to think.
I remember that my nurse, Ellin, was hysterically funny, a huge smart ass, and was annoyed by all the dumb hospital rules. I don't remember any specifics to back up this assertion, I just have that impression.
Then, I quite literally remember absolutely nothing at all until I was pushing. It really, really hurt. This was about seven or eight hours after the last thing I remember.
It was all kind of confusing. I was embarrassed about being loud while pushing. I was a little panicky because I wasn't sure I could do it, but knew there was no way out of it. Daniel was being so nice and saying everything right, and then he was crying because he could see her head.
I asked if it would hurt less after she came out. The nurse assured me it wouldn't hurt anymore. I asked her how long a person pushes. She told me I would be done in less than an hour. So I started watching the clock and when we started coming up on an hour, I was determined this baby would be OUT before we hit the 60 minute mark. At some point, the anesthesia guy came in and determined that my epidural had quit working about an hour before. He fixed it and it gave me enough strength to push hard enough to finish it.
Things get foggy here again. I remember asking why she wasn't crying and asking why they wouldn't let me hold her. They dropped her, already swaddled, on me long enough for Daniel to snap a picture and whisked her away. Somehow, I got the information that she was being taken to special care for breathing and I insisted Daniel go with her and not stay with me.
Then everyone was gone and I was all alone. No husband, no baby, no tears of joy. Not even my mom or even a nurse. Things are really patchy here. I remember Mom coming in and me telling her I didn't feel anything--no big emotions. She had them take me to see Iphigenia and I only sort of remember it.
What I do remember is later that night insisting Daniel take me to see her again. She was hooked up to an IV, in an oxygen tent, and crying. I couldn't pick her up and comfort her. It was the worst I've ever felt in my entire life. I put my hand on her belly and sang and sobbed and she stopped crying.
It took me three days to write the last two paragraphs.
The next few days at the hospital were a mix of awesome and miserable. It was nice to be surrounded by our friends, but Iphigenia kept having trouble eating, and the staff kept taking her away, and there were all these stupid regulations (Daniel couldn't carry her around!) and it just felt like we were in prison. Finally, we got to go home.
Iphigenia ate successfully within 15 minutes of our arrival home. People brought us food. I hung out in my bathroom. My parents got snowed in with us. In short, life was good.